Cristina Mittermeier: Storytelling to promote ocean conservation

National Geographic Explorer Cristina Mittermeier is on a mission to protect the ocean through the power of visual media.

Cristina Mittermeier has dedicated her life to helping people understand the need to protect wildlife and wild places. Born in Mexico City and raised in Cuernavaca, Mittermeier began her career working as a marine biologist in the Gulf of California and the Yucátan Peninsula.

Mittermeier soon came to the realization that she could more directly express her passion for the natural world through photography. After studying at the Corcoran College for the Arts in Washington, D.C., she embarked on a career in conservation photography. Specializing in the ocean and indigenous cultures, Mittermeier has photographed in more than one hundred countries and shot assignments for National Geographic magazine. 

As a photographer, Mittermeier has received numerous accolades, including Smithsonian Conservation Photographer of the Year, the North American Nature Photographer’s Association Mission Award, and recognition as a Sony Artisan of Imagery.

In 2014, Mittermeier and Paul Nicklen co-founded SeaLegacy, an organization that aims to promote ocean conservation efforts through photography and other visual media. She later co-founded Only One, which brings together global activists and experts to further ocean conservation. In speaking about her accomplishments, Mittermeier said that the creation of SeaLegacy and Only One are the ones she is most proud of. 

Despite the challenges faced by ocean conservationists, Mittermeier remains an optimist. Asked about her vision for the future, she said “The dream is to restore health and abundance to the ocean in a single generation and in doing so, to use our planet’s largest ecosystem as a solution to the climate crisis.”


Watch Mittermeier on her latest adventure in Welcome to Earth, a six-part limited series from National Geographic. Now streaming on Disney+.

This Explorer's work is funded by the National Geographic Society
Learn More

Read This Next

Diva Amon: Shining light on the mysterious deep ocean
Enric Sala: Protecting the last wild places in the ocean
Asha de Vos: Dreaming of ocean mysteries to pioneering whale research